The Father of the Modern Brassica: Dr. Jack Brown and his Mighty Mustard® Cover Crop
Over the past 40 years, True Leaf Market has had the privilege of sharing some very special heirloom and non-GMO varieties with you from all over the world. Many of these cultivars were grown and developed by the most passionate growers, breeders, and researchers throughout the centuries. We would like to take a moment to highlight an extraordinary individual who has made unparalleled contributions to our understanding of oilseed Brassica cover crops, foraging crops, and sustainable mustard biodiesels.
For more than 30 years, the University of Idaho’s Dr. Jack Brown has been the preeminent grower and researcher of the benefits of oilseed mustards (Brassicaceae), including rapeseed grown for canola oil. His tenure at the University of Idaho has led him to develop a number of well-researched and patented crops, most notably the Mighty Mustard® line, which provides a natural and organic means of insecticide, weed suppression while enriching soils with a nitrogen-rich biomass (“green manure”).
Born in Edinburgh and receiving his advanced degrees there in Scotland from the University of St. Andrews, Dr. Brown made his new home in Moscow, Idaho where he joined the faculty at the University of Idaho’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1992. During his time in the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Brown experienced the threats of monoculture posed by the always successful cultivation of cereal grains such as Hard Red winter wheat and Hard Red spring wheat. In his opinion, because wheat is the absolute easiest crop to grow on Earth, growers are always tempted by the cash crop which can increase the risk of local soil-borne diseases and pests. However, through decades of tireless research and trials, Dr. Jack Brown has been able to prove to many of these commercial wheat farmers the benefits and profits of rotational cropping with oilseed Brassicas such as Mighty Mustard®.
Indian mustards such as his Pacific Gold Mighty Mustard® and Kodiak Mighty Mustard® have been repeatedly tested to be first-rate natural pesticides, killing off more nematodes and roundworms than any of its competitors. While these two mustard varieties are proven insect repellents, White Gold Mighty Mustard® is a tenacious broadleaf weed suppressant best sown during the growing season as a companion plant. Trifecta Power Blend™ Mighty Mustard® features a patented blend of all three of these mustards specifically designed by the University of Idaho to create the most abundant and disease- and insect-free season possible.
Aside from being a premier cover crop, Dr. Jack Brown has also discovered that oilseed Brassicas such as mustard and rapeseed, are ideal foraging crops for livestock. During growing trials up in Moscow, ID, he soon noticed herds of local elk grazing on his Brassicas while leaving the wheat crop entirely untouched. Since then, he has argued that a high protein/low fiber crop such as mustard or rapeseed lends to the best animal fodder if blended with a low protein/high fiber cereal grain such as triticale.
Not to mention his dedicated study into the sustainability of Brassica-based biodiesels, Dr. Brown has only begun to imagine what is possible with the ancient mustard seed. Just three months ago this past May, Dr. Jack Brown finally retired from his 28-year position at the University of Idaho and we here at True Leaf Market, along with countless farmers, growers, and hobbyists would just like to say, thank you Jack!
- David Bernal